Book Review: “Instruments of the Angels” by Monica Leonelle

April 15, 2017 | Posted in Angels and Demons, Book Reviews, Fiction, Urban Fantasy | By

Instruments of the Angels (Hallows & Nephilim: Waters Dark and Deep #1)Instruments of the Angels by Monica Leonelle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of “Instruments of the Angels” free in exchange for an honest review.

“Instruments of the Angels” is an interesting story with a lot of promise that gets dragged down by some confused pacing and odd characterizations. The plot of the story is good. Monica Leonelle does a good job of creating he world and introducing the reader to it, and her protagonists are – for the most part – distinct and likable, and her villains are suitably dark and ominous.

Two of the biggest issues I had with the book were trying to understand the timeframe during which the story takes place and the believability of the way some characters reacted to changes that come about because of the events of the story. When I talk about the timeframe of the story, I don’t mean this in regards to the era in which the story is set – is quite clearly in the present time – but rather in how much time passes between events and in the story overall. There are some places where it sounds like multiple days have passed during which the story takes place – especially since one character talks about dreams he has which then prompts him to take certain actions the next day – but there are other points where it seems like a considerable amount of the action is supposedly happening over the course of a single day. I found myself having to go back and recheck things I’d already read just to try to keep the timeline somewhat clear. As for the believability of the characters, one of the main characters learns information that’s would typically turn someone’s world upside down, yet she accepts it is true very quickly and without asking a lot of the expected questions one would normally have.

All that said, however, I truly enjoyed the story. It’s a fresh take on the concept of net for them and their involvement in our world and offers a few different threads of ministry – all of which feel vital and provide the characters with an appropriate motivation for their actions. Even though I had issues with this book that led me to have to give it a three-*rating, I’m interested enough in what I read that I’ll wanted to read the next installment, and hopefully some of these issues will have been cleared up by then.

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Students Promised Help with Student Loans May Not Get It Due to Agency Error

April 2, 2017 | Posted in Education, Politics | By

Image of students at graduation. Photo by: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo by: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This is a truly rotten – and inexcusable – situation. Thousands of students entered a government program in which the remainder of their student loans would be forgiven if certain conditions were met after they’d worked in public service jobs and made 120 monthly payments (which would take 10 years.) Be sure to remember that last part – it’ll be important in a couple of paragraphs.

Anyway, they had to use a specific kind of loan and have their job approved through the agency administering the program. Whether a job qualified or not depended on the nature of the organization, and not all non-profit corporations were eligible. They were also told to re-submit their job each year for recertification of eligibility in case anything changed. Even with the red tape, for many, the possibility of having the balance of the loans forgiven was an attractive offer – attractive enough that several took jobs they would have otherwise passed over because they qualified for the program.

Or so they thought.

According to the New York Times

In a legal filing submitted last week, the Education Department suggested that borrowers could not rely on the program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify for debt forgiveness. The thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time, the agency said.

The filing adds to questions and concerns about the program just as the first potential beneficiaries reach the end of their 10-year commitment — and the clocks start ticking on the remainder of their debts.

FedLoan claims that in some cases, students had been told their job qualified in error and that the denial of certification was retroactive. And here’s where those 120 monthly payments become important. Those payments had to be made while they were working at a qualified job, so when their previously approved job suddenly became retroactively un-approved, none of the monthly payments they made during that time could be counted toward the total 120 monthly payments they had to make for the balance to be forgiven. Worse, they were given no avenue to appeal the decision. As you can imagine, there’s now a lawsuit that’s been filed.

This is a program that started in 2007 and while it may sound like the kind of horror story likely to be told many times and in many ways as long as the Trump administration is in office, but it’s not. This year is the first year any students could receive the promised forgiveness of the balance of their loans, and the announcement that the certifications participants have been getting may be worthless came out in December. The Trump DoE isn’t helping matters by sticking to the decision that the wrongful approvals are retroactive and the documents can’t be relied on, but it’s actually a sad legacy that the Obama Department of Education has left behind.

I hope this situation is worked out fairly – and quickly. I wouldn’t even want to imagine how bewildering – not to mention infuriating – it would be to have worked as many as 10 years at a job that wasn’t my ideal job, but one which I had taken as part of an agreement to provide public service in exchange for the forgiveness for a portion of my loans, only to find out I may have essentially wasted all of that time. These weren’t people looking for a handout or a free ride on the taxpayers dime. They’ve made 10 years of payments on their loans, and they held up their end of the bargain. Now the government needs to do likewise.

More details can be found at this NYT article from when the news first broke in December.

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